Classic Rock

10 Pivotal Moments That Cancelled Musical Careers

todayMarch 15, 2024 1

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The music industry is a fickle beast. One minute you’re topping the charts, the next your career can be over thanks to a single misstep.

Today, we’ll delve into the world of fallen stars and explore the decisions that sent some of music’s biggest names crashing from the top. From public controversies to artistic blunders, get ready for a countdown of the most pivotal moments that cancelled musical careers.

We’ll be covering cautionary tales from artists like Ashlee Simpson, R. Kelly, and DaBaby, and dissecting how these moments irrevocably altered the course of their careers.

10. Ashlee Simpson’s SNL fiasco

Musicians, especially those just launching their careers, rely heavily on artistic credibility. Ashlee Simpson, a rising star at the time, faced a major setback during her stint as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 2004.

During her second performance, the wrong vocals – for the song she’d already sung – blared out. Caught off guard, Simpson’s awkward jig and subsequent explanation became fodder for relentless jokes. This incident, a potential springboard for wider recognition, ultimately derailed her momentum.

While she pursued other ventures, Simpson has never quite recaptured the level of success she enjoyed before that infamous night.

9. Billy Squier’s Pastel Mishap

The 1980s were a vibrant time for rock music, and Billy Squier rode that wave to success. However, at the height of his career, Squier made a baffling decision – the infamous “Rock Me Tonite” music video. 

While it seems tame by today’s standards, the video’s pastel color scheme and Squier’s flamboyant dance moves clashed heavily with his rock persona. Fans were alienated, with critics labeling it cringe-worthy.

Despite a manager’s attempt to shelve the video, it was released, leading to a swift downfall. Squier’s concerts went from sold-out affairs to sparsely attended, eventually forcing him out of the music industry altogether.

8. CeeLo Green’s PR nightmare

Navigating sexual assault allegations requires careful consideration, and CeeLo Green’s handling of the situation in 2012 was a masterclass in how not to do it.

Following accusations, Green not only denied them, but made a series of insensitive tweets suggesting unconsciousness negates assault, which is demonstrably false. These remarks not only displayed a concerning lack of understanding but also cast a shadow over his innocence. 

While no charges were ultimately filed, Green’s public statements severely damaged his reputation.  Despite apologies, he hasn’t been able to recapture the level of popularity he enjoyed before the incident.

7. DaBaby’s onstage homophobic tirade

Audience engagement is a key element of live performance, but DaBaby’s approach at Rolling Loud in 2021 proved disastrous. Mid-set, he launched into a hateful rant, hurling insults at gay men and promoting misinformation about HIV/AIDS.

The performance mood plummeted as the crowd, activists, and fellow celebrities swiftly condemned his remarks.  Festival appearances were canceled, collaborations like his hit with Dua Lipa were nixed, and his eventual apology only managed to be both strange and insincere. While DaBaby continues to release music, the incident irrevocably tarnished his public image.

6. B.o.B. promoted Flat Earth ideologies

Rapper B.o.B., known for hits like “Airplanes”, found himself plummeting from favor after embracing a bizarre conspiracy theory. He took to Twitter to promote the idea that the Earth is flat, sparking widespread mockery from fans and scientists alike, including Neil deGrasse Tyson. 

Undeterred by the ridicule, B.o.B. doubled down, even launching a failed fundraising campaign to send a satellite into space to “prove” his theory. This cemented his reputation as a flat-earther, overshadowing his music career and leaving a lasting mark on his legacy.

5. Tory Lanez was accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion

In 2020, rapper Megan Thee Stallion publically accused Tory Lanez of a violent incident that resulted in her injury. Lanez responded by denying the allegations and attempting to discredit Megan’s claims.

This strategy backfired, with public opinion shifting towards Megan as more information emerged. The controversy significantly damaged Lanez’s career, leading to a loss of fan support and ultimately, a legal conviction in 2023. This case serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of violence and the importance of believing victims.

4. Marilyn Manson’s sexual allegations

Marilyn Manson, known for his controversial persona, faced a career-crippling situation in 2021. Multiple women, including his ex-fiancée Evan Rachel Wood, came forward with accusations of abuse, ranging from anti-Semitism to sexual assault. 

These allegations, more serious than past controversies, caused a significant shift in public opinion. Manson’s record label dropped him, acting roles were revoked, and fans who previously defended his antics found it impossible to do so now. While Manson strongly denies the claims and suggests his accusers are lying, the damage to his reputation has been substantial.

3. Sinéad O’Connor’s controversial (and prophetic) SNL act

Sinéad O’Connor’s appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992 became a defining moment in her career, but not for the music. During her performance, she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II, sparking immediate outrage.

O’Connor, protesting the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child abuse, later explained her powerful statement. However, the act was misconstrued as fomenting violence, leading to blacklisting, public condemnation, and even threats from other celebrities.

Ironically, years later, the Church itself acknowledged the abuses O’Connor highlighted. Though her career never fully recovered, O’Connor’s bravery has gained more recognition in recent years, with many now appreciating her willingness to take a stand for what she believed in.

2. Gary Glitter’s inappropriate involvement with minors

Gary Glitter’s story serves as a stark reminder that artistic talent doesn’t excuse heinous crimes.  This former glam rock star, once celebrated for his music, is now remembered for a series of horrific acts. 

In the late 1990s, his arrest and conviction for possessing illegal images involving minors shattered his career. Despite attempts to evade scrutiny by moving abroad, further charges and convictions for child sexual abuse followed in Vietnam and the UK. Glitter’s legacy has been irrevocably tarnished, his name now synonymous with predatory behavior rather than musical achievements.

1. R. Kelly’s multiple sexual allegations

R&B singer R. Kelly’s career has been marred by persistent allegations of inappropriate behavior with young women and girls for decades. While he initially faced limited consequences, the tide finally turned in the #MeToo era.

Disturbing accusations of a sex cult operating under Kelly’s control surfaced in the 2010s, sparking widespread outrage. Music streaming services dropped his music, collaborating artists distanced themselves, and fans who previously looked the other way began a boycott. Despite denying the allegations, Kelly was eventually tried and convicted on multiple charges in 2022.

Written by: Best Classic Bands Staff

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